The Rain of Poems over Duvrovnik

by Zeljka Lovrencic

Last spring in Chilean Embassy in Zagreb found out about an interesting project. Casagrande, a group of young Chilean poets. decided to come to Dubrovnik and “bomb” it with poems.Versesof 35 poets – all undel 35 years of age- needed to be translated into Croatian.Than, the same number of Croatian poets needed to be found and their poems translated to Spanish. The idea was to bury Dubrovnik under verses printed on bookmarkers. And it happened on August2002.

Letus saya few words about the organisers of Ibis project. Julio Carrasca, José Joaquín Prieto and Cristóbal Bianchi are the poets gathered under the name CasaGrande. During four years they have organised several interesting projects in Santiago de Chile. They have also published eight issues of the group’s magazine.This is an urban magazine, dedicated to art and culture, financed by the incomes from their projects, and published in 500’copies. For the purposes of une of their projects they haden larged pages of the eight issue of their magazineon the 3.30 x 1.80 meters formal and spread it all ayer the underground stations in the Chilean capital.

They have also organised poetry evenings in front of Pablo Neruda’s house.They always chose important placesin the city to realise their ideas – underground,city ports, main squares –
thusthey become like a thread binding all citizens, creating new ways of communication in Ibis alienating society.

They have drawn special attention of fuepublicon March23rd,2001 when they “bombed” presidential palace La Moneda with poems of young Chilean poets printed on leaflets. Several thousand people gathered on that occasion, and Ibis “bombing” of the palace with verses (instead of with bombs, like in 1973), haLl a very good response in Chilean publico That was the first part of the project, later to include Dresden, Guernica, Nagasaki and – Dubrovnik.

When they askedme to translate poems of young Chilean authors to Croatian, I accepted gladly and, together with my colleague Jordan Jelié started in an interesting adventure (translations haven’t been published yet). However, 35 poems by Croatian authors ondee the 35 years of age needed lo be selected, and 1, myself could only find just a handful of them. Problem was solved when l was directed to a particular issue of Quorum magazine, where Branko Cengec and Miroslav Miéanovié have published a panorama entitled Passion of diversity, dark sound of emptiness, Croatian poetry of the eighties and the nineties (5/6, 1995) (Strast razlike, tamni prizvuk praznine, hrvatsko pjesnistvo 80-ih i 90-ih). l have selected poems from that collection, and Casa Grande entrusted translationsto professor Andrija Rajevié.* project was realised on August 12th, 2002 in the middle of the tourist season, thanks also to kindness and understanding of Oubrovnik local authorities (especially to the Mayor Dubravka Suica) and the Organisational board of Dubrovnik Summer Festival. A hundred thousand poems rained on Dubrovnik that night, from a helicopter that circled ayer town. It rained ayer the Old Town – main street Stradun, illuminated walls of the town, narrow alleys and the Saint Blaise church. Whole Dubrovnik was looking Iowards the sky, and children were running to collect as many bookmarkers as they could. More Iban two thousand people read poems by Croalían and Chilean poets. There was delight and happiness, and not without a reason. On the town on which, not so long ago, bombs use to fall, bringing death and sorrow, now it rained verses dedicated to the joy of life.

With summer long gane, “rain of poems” ayer Dubrovnik faLles away in the memory. In Santiago they are stillwatching footages recorded by Francisco Vargas, cameraman who accompanied CasaGrande group during their staying in Dubrovnik, and here in Zagreb, we are remembering the project that united Croatia and Chile with poetry. This far
away South Americancountry, celebrated by Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral, is also known for the fact that it received a large number of Croatian emigrants. It is said, not without reason, that the entire islancl of Brac has moved to Chile. Today Chileans of Croatian origin belong to all classes of Chilean sodety, taking sume respectable positions in the society. Let me mentían sume of them – Andrés Morales Milohnic, roer ancl university professor; Ramón Díaz Eterovic and Nicoló Gligo, writers; Domingo Mihovilovic Tessier, clramatist and actor; Lily Garafulic, sculptor; Carlos Mladinic,member of Parliamentand former Minister; Baldo Prokurica, member of Parliament; Esteban Tomic, son of the presidential candidate Radomir Tomic, today Ambassador of the Republic of Chile in the Organisation of American States, and others. In Chile and other South American countries 1also had the opportunity to meet and socialise with many of Croatian descendants, and partially thanks to thel11and their interest in the country of their origin, I decided to translate works of Chilean authors to
Croatian. I also believe that Croatian literature should be presented to a greater extent in the Spanish speaking countries.

This project of Chilean group of poets could be the first in a series of such joint endeavours. Young Chilean poets managed to engage in their project the two Embassies – Chilean in Zagreb, and Croatian in Santiago, along with Dubrovnik local authorities, Karlovac Brewery and other institutions. This joint project, among other things, is a proof that Chile and Croatia, although geographically far away, are by the warmth and friendship of their people actually very close.

Icono_pdf The Rain of Poems over Dubrovnik_Zeljka Lovrencic 2002 

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